[nfbwatlk] CFB convention update: NFB representative announced

Mary ellen gabias at telus.net
Tue Apr 15 17:41:31 UTC 2014

I'm delighted to announce that Mr. Anil Lewis, Director of Advocacy and
Policy for the National Federation of the Blind, will represent the NFB at
the upcoming CFB convention.  Anil Lewis has a record of successfully
placing blind individuals in competitive employment at competitive wages.
He understands the 21st century workplace and has profound belief in the
capacity of blind people!


He also understands what it means to become blind as an adult and how good
training can help restore confidence and competence.  His impressive
biography follows convention registration information.


Sunday, May 25, 2014

After many Federation conventions in Victoria BC, the Canadian Federation of
the Blind is looking forward to hosting this gathering of the blind of
Canada on beautiful Bowen Island, near Vancouver, British Columbia.

Conventions bring us together to celebrate progress, share experiences, and
chart our direction for the coming year. Individually we are capable;
together we combine our efforts and become unstoppable! 

The 2014 Canadian Federation of the Blind convention will be held on Bowen
Island, British Columbia, Canada at Bowen Island Lodge, 380 Cardena Dr,
Bowen Island, (only a 20 minute BC ferry ride from Horseshoe Bay Vancouver

Everyone is welcome. As accommodation space at the Lodge is limited to
approximately 50 persons, please guarantee your attendance with a $100
deposit. The balance of convention cost ($200.00) is due on or before May
9th, 2014. If cancellation is necessary,$50 of the deposit will be returned
before May 9. After that date, the deposit cannot be refunded. 

Bookings are processed in date order of deposits received. We encourage you
to act quickly as this Lodge is popular with many blind folks who have
stayed there in past years.


The full convention cost of $300.00 includes two nights accommodation plus
five meals. Accommodation is shared, two persons per room. Each room is
equipped with two single beds. The lodge is equipped with eight common
bathrooms/ showers accessed via a common hallway, so be sure to bring your

The five (5) included meals will be provided Friday evening dinner,
Saturday's: breakfast, lunch and banquet, plus Sunday morning breakfast.

For those residing in or near Vancouver, not requiring over-night
accommodation, who would like to join us for the Saturday full session the
fee is $100.00. This fee includes convention registration, lunch and the
always popular Banquet dinner and speaker. Again, space is limited so please
reserve your attendance on or before May 9th,with a $100.00 deposit.

You can book for the CFB convention online at www.cfb.ca using PayPal. Our
PayPal address is registration at cfb dot ca

Interact email money transfer (treasurer at cfb dot ca),

or by mailing your booking funds fee, along with your contact information
The Canadian Federation of the Blind
P.O. Box 8007, Victoria BC V8W 3R7



Anil Lewis 

(Counselor, Advocate, and Father)


Anil Lewis was born in 1964 in Atlanta, Georgia. He is the third of four
children. Both his older brother and older sister became legally blind at an
early age from retinitis pigmentosa. Lewis was originally labeled educably
mentally retarded but eventually became the first member of his family to
attend a four-year college. He has excelled academically, received many
awards, participated as a leader in many extracurricular activities, and
received several college scholarships. Although he was finally diagnosed at
age nine with retinitis pigmentosa, his vision was fairly unaffected until
age twenty-five.  Currently employed as the Director of Advocacy and Policy
for the National Federation of the Blind in Baltimore, Maryland, Lewis is
responsible for a variety of public Policy and strategic programs.  Most
notably, he is the legislative lead of the NFB's efforts to repeal Section
14(c) of the Fair Labor Standards Act, an obsolete provision that allows
employers to pay workers with disabilities less than the federal minimum
wage.  He also coordinated the public relations campaign for the NFB's Blind
Driver ChallengeT, an innovative research project to develop nonvisual
access technology that will make it possible for a blind person to safely
and independently operate an automobile. 

As a sighted man he fairly easily found respectable employment with wages
high above the minimum wage. Then in 1989, while pursuing his bachelor's of
business administration in computer information systems at Georgia State
University (GSU), he became blind from retinitis pigmentosa. "All of a
sudden doors that had been open to me slammed shut." At that point, although
he had always considered himself socially aware, he became personally
acquainted with actual social injustice and discrimination. "I am ashamed
that only personal experience brought this awakening and decision to take
action. But I am proud that I did take action and remain committed today to
making a difference in the lives of others."

Lewis received blindness skills training while completing his course
requirements for his degree at GSU. He quickly learned the alternative
skills of blindness, including Braille, activities of daily living,
assistive technology, and use of the long white cane. He capitalized on them
to graduate with his bachelor's degree from Georgia State in 1993.  "It was
a struggle to regain the life that blindness had appeared to take from me.
Almost everyone who had once respected me now pitied me, but I was
determined not to be redefined by my blindness." Armed with these new skills
and this new determination, he quickly became committed to ensuring that
others in similar situations could get appropriate training and unlimited

Lewis got a job as a Braille and assistive technology instructor. Within a
year he was given the greater responsibility of job development/placement
specialist, helping clients develop employment skills and get jobs. "I had
had no experience helping anyone other than myself get a job. I certainly
did not have expertise in job placement for blind people." It was during
this time that he first became aware of the National Federation of the
Blind. A friend referred him to the NFB when he had questions about Social
Security work incentives and needed information about tools and strategies
to help blind people obtain employment. As a result he attended his first
NFB convention in Chicago, Illinois, in 1995 and became aware of the
empowering philosophy and tremendous resource of the National Federation of
the Blind. The technical assistance materials produced by the NFB's Job
Opportunities for the Blind (JOB) program and the NFB's Social Security and
technical assistance information provided resources enabling him to
motivate, educate, and encourage other blind people to achieve successful
gainful employment. "My success as a job placement specialist was a direct
result of my ability to infuse NFB philosophy into the clients I worked

Lewis went on to develop and manage a job placement program for people with
disabilities as the manager of the Disability Employment Initiative with
Randstad Staffing, one of the largest employment staffing companies in the
world, during the Atlanta Olympic and Para-Olympic Games in 1996. From then
until early 2006 he was employed by the law offices of Martin and Jones as
the Georgia Client Assistance Program (CAP) counselor/advocate, representing
people with disabilities every day. He served as a disability consultant
working with companies in Georgia until 2010.

He became president of the Atlanta Metropolitan Chapter of the NFB of
Georgia in 2000 and was elected president of the NFB of Georgia in 2002. In
that year he also received the Kenneth Jernigan Memorial Scholarship, the
NFB's most prestigious award presented to a blind student, which he used to
obtain his master's degree in public administration with emphasis in policy
analysis and program evaluation from GSU in 2003. That year he was also
elected as a member of the National Federation of the Blind board of
directors. He received an Outstanding Alumnus award from GSU in 1997 and was
also a 2003 GSU Torch Bearer of Peace Award recipient.  In 2004, the
American Bar Association presented Lewis with their Paul G. Hearn Advocacy
Award.  In 2006 Lewis was named alumnus of the year by Leadership DeKalb, a
community leadership development organization in DeKalb County, Georgia.
Lewis is also a graduate of the Leadership Georgia program, class of 2008.

Lewis has dedicated his leadership skills to the development and growth of
disability rights organizations that promote independence and improved
quality of life. He was appointed by the governor as a board member and
served as president of the Statewide Independent Living Council (SILC) of
Georgia, an organization promoting independent living for those with severe
disabilities. He also served as the founding chairman of the board of
directors of the Disability Law and Policy Center (DLPC) of Georgia, which
used a variety of methods to influence and enforce disability policy. Most
recently, he has been appointed by President Obama as a member of the
Committee for Purchase from People who are Blind or Severely Disabled, known
as The U. S. AbilityOne Commission, which administers the AbilityOne
Program, a unique employment program sponsored by the Federal Government
serving the needs of people who are blind or have other significant
disabilities. All of these organizations recognize that people with
disabilities are integral, necessary members of society and reflect the
world's normal diversity. Further, each works to ensure that the policies
and programs developed for people with disabilities are created and
implemented by people with disabilities. By helping to develop and
strengthen such institutions to serve as a cornerstone in protecting the
rights of people with disabilities, he hopes to secure the commitment and
support of others. He also hopes to reduce the barriers people with
disabilities face by encouraging the implementation of public policy
securing the rights and promoting the responsible participation of the
disabled as productive citizens.

Lewis volunteers as a teacher and mentor for blind kids, working with
promising blind students who, because of limited resources and lack of
trained professionals to teach them, are inappropriately encouraged to
pursue special education diplomas. He wants blind students to set higher
goals for themselves and to receive the training and tools they need to
acquire the skills to reach their full potential.

Speaking of his personal life, Anil Lewis says that his proudest
accomplishment is his bright, ambitious son Amari, born in 1997. Balancing
his many civic responsibilities with his personal life as a father is
undoubtedly his greatest challenge. His greatest success, he thinks, has
been overcoming the temptation to subside into becoming an unmotivated,
self-pitying person with a disability. He thinks his greatest contribution
so far has been to encourage other people with disabilities to believe in
themselves and to understand that they can make a difference.

Lewis says that lack of awareness of individuals with traits outside
society's accepted norms promotes extreme ignorance, which in turn results
in unjustified fear, negative stereotypes, and discrimination. In an effort
to combat that ignorance, he aggressively recruits, refers, and supports
other like-minded people to become active in the National Federation of the
Blind and other organizations in the disability rights movement. He hopes to
promote social change by fostering the active participation of more people
with disabilities in every facet of society, thereby replacing ignorance
with understanding, fear with awareness, and negative stereotypes with
mutual understanding. In the process he believes that we will eliminate
discrimination against people with disabilities. "With a working knowledge
of most disability law and policy and extended experience in advocating for
the rights of others, I am committed to improving the quality of life for
all people with disabilities by working to remove the barriers of ignorance
while creating equal opportunities for all. My personal mission is simple: I
want to make a positive difference in the lives of others."





More information about the NFBWATlk mailing list